Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Saturday, July 30, 2016

My Farm Friends

Just dropping in to say hi! I am trying to get back into writing at least once a week, but my summer job absorbs most of my time and energy . Saturdays are a good day to write. Today I got to go visit my friends at an animal refuge near where I live. It is called Odd Man Inn, and it is different from most animal refuges because its pretty much free range. During the day nobody is in pens or cages unless they want to be. They can just roam around the property. They have to learn to get along together or else stay away from the animals they don't like much. Mostly they seem to live in harmony, like a peaceable kingdom. But once in a while there is a skirmish, usually involving Gomez the Goose. Gomez thinks it is funny to chase the dog or tease the turkey. Then he flaps his wings and sticks his neck out and honks with joy!

I try to go there every so often... I can't remember how long ago it was last time I was there, but it was probably around May some time. It is therapeutic for me, because I am always in a calmer and happier mood for the next few days after I go!

 I do stuff to help out when I am there. I really love all of the animals. It is sort of how I think Heaven will be when I die, except my family will be there and all of my dogs and cats and fish and everyone. Today I helped by raking out the chicken coop, staining a fence, helping transfer a new pig into her new home (sort of... I tried to help but the pig was too fast and I ended up tripping over my own feet) and helping feed the animals. Feeding the animals is the best part because they get really happy! When they know it is their snack time, you will suddenly turn around and find that all of the animals are following you!

I took some pictures of Gomez and the chickens. My phone ran out of storage so I couldn't take pictures of any more of the animals. But besides the fowl, I also got to spend time with the dogs (including a giant dog who likes to sit on my lap) and the goats and the pigs and a lamb and the llamas.

Wow, I took a lot of pictures of Gomez. I think there are eight. Gomez follows me around everywhere when I am there! He just walks along honking! His other goose friend, Lucy, follows also, but she doesn't like me so she hisses at me. I think it is because she thinks I am hogging Gomez! He also likes to get held and carried! When you pick him up and hug him, he actually stops honking for a while. Today while I was trying to paint the fence, Gomez was standing behind me honking, and he would just honk louder and more frantically, and when I turned around I found that his goose face was about one inch away from me! He was saying, "HEY PAY ATTENTION TO ME! STOP STARING AT THIS FENCE! THERE IS A GOOSE WHO NEEDS SOME LOVE!" So I would pause what I was doing and pet him a little bit, and then as soon as I'd start painting again, I'd hear, "HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK ..." He actually ended up at Odd Man Inn because he used to live in a house in the suburbs and he honked so much that his neighbor threatened to shoot him. So his owner was scared for Gomez's safety and wanted him to go live somewhere where he could honk all he wanted without getting death threats. I don't mind him honking. I think it is funny and cute! Also, if you are thinking of getting a goose for a pet, don't use Gomez as an example of how geese act. He's actually a very strange goose. Most geese are not as people-friendly as him!

Next time maybe I'll take a video of him so you can hear him in action!

I think you should also know that I had to break up a fight between Gomez and a turkey named Clarence. It was a fight that Gomez started. But the turkey probably would have won. Later that same turkey kept trying to bite my leg! I had to banish him to turkey jail so I could finish painting the fence without getting pecked the entire time. I learned that when turkeys are happy their faces are red, but when turkeys are mad their faces are blue. I have no idea how this is even possible. But when he was glaring at me from turkey jail he was blue. See, not ALL animals love me! Maybe I can win him over next time. 

The only other pictures I took were of the chickens! Even though I raked their coop for them, the chickens were mostly not that interested in me... until I was eating grapes. Then they all wanted to be my BFF. They would actually take a grape right out of my hand! They also liked stealing grapes from each other. Some of them didn't even eat the grapes. They just wanted to own grapes and make all of their friends jealous. But then their friends stole the grapes from them because I guess that is what jealous friends do. 

That is all of the pictures I took before my phone's storage ran out. Stupid Pokemon Go is hogging all my storage! 

Alright, now I need to go start getting some things ready for work on Monday. But I just wanted to share these pictures of my feathered friends. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Mystery of the Missing Chihuahua

Haven't blogged in a while (all of my most recent posts seem to start like that) but I was going to share this odd story on Facebook, and since it is sort of long, I realized my blog would be a better place for it. 
So I'm still working at the day camp for children with special needs. The kids get picked up at around 2:30. When the last kid had just been picked up, I noticed that there was a little brown and white dog running around in the parking lot. He was holding his back left leg up and running with his other three legs. He was starting to run towards the busy street. I was worried and started trying to call the dog, but realized I wouldn't know what to do with him if he came up to me. The mom of the last camper being picked up told me that she thought the dog belonged to a house around the corner, and that the people always let their dogs run loose, and that the dogs weren't very friendly. 
The dog ran off, so I went back in, and finished closing up the camp for the day. At about 3:15 I went to leave, and the dog was out in the parking lot hopping around again! 
This is sort of what the dog looked like. 

I had been on my way to run some errands for camp, but I decided I couldn't just drive away and leave the dog, so I went and sat down on a curb. The dog went and sat down on a curb around the corner from where I was. He sat there and looked at me. When I used to volunteer with a rescue organization I heard that scared dogs will respond better to you if you avoid eye contact, so I just sat down and didn't look at him, made no move to pet him or chase him or anything. Meanwhile, I got my phone out. 
My phone was dying, with about 10% of a battery left, and I didn't have a charger with me. I had to think fast. I had heard that the non-emergency number around here is 999, but since my cellphone is from a different area code than where I live, when I tried to call it it didn't work. I tried to log onto the Internet to see the non-emergency police number, but because my battery was so low it had gone into power-saving mode and wouldn't connect. I decided to try calling Information, which I have not done since I was about 14! I dialed it and found that it was answered by a Siri-like robot who asked me what I wanted. 
I said, "Non-emergency police department."
The robot repeated, "Police department, emergencies only. Is that correct?"
I said, "No!" I again repeated, "Non-emergency police department."
It told me "Non-emergency police department," but said the name of a town that is about 20 miles north of where I was. 
:NO!" I said. 
Finally it must have connected me with some sort of human, because I heard a woman's voice say, "One moment please," and then I was connected with the non-emergency police department. 
That one was a  robot that told me I could either dial the extension I wanted, or push 2 for more options. So I pushed 2. But nothing happened. I pushed 2 several more times, and then I pushed 0, but nothing was happening!
Growing frustrated because my phone battery was now down to 5%, I called Information again, this time asking for my county's animal control. I actually got connected to a human being. I told her where I was, and that a small dog wearing no collar and seeming to be injured was hopping around in the parking lot. I gave a description of the dog, and the lady said she'd notify my area's officer. 

By this time the dog had crossed the parking lot and was sitting about five feet away from me. He seemed to know I was going to keep him safe, but he still didn't want to get close to me or let me pet him or anything. We just sat there together, stealing glances at each other every so often. I talked to the dog and told him that he was a good boy and that I wanted to help him get back home. He seemed like he understood. After a while he laid down in the grass under the shade, and got that squinty-eyed look my little dog Lily gets when she's happy. 
With my battery down to 1% and no animal control cars in sight, I tried sending text messages to my aunt and my friend, saying my battery was dying and could they please call Animal Control and see if anyone was coming to help. I kept checking every few minutes to see if either of them responded. Finally, when I looked, my phone was dead.
I realized that the dog and I were now all alone in the world. I went through several possibilities in my mind. I could just drive off and hope for the best. (No way.) I could try to get the dog to get into my car so I could take him to a shelter myself... but I doubted he would agree to this plan, and he might run away and get into traffic. I could hope that someone from one of the few cars parked in the parking lot would come back for their car, and I could ask them to call the non-emergency police number. Or the dog and I could sit there like this forever. 
Suddenly the dog got up and started walking away. I called him back, worried he'd get even loster. He came back towards me, but then turned and hopped away again, and then turned back towards me, and then away again, as if trying to get me to follow. 
The parking lot of my work goes up against a row of bushes and a chain link fence, which separates it from a bunch of run down backyards of equally run down houses. In one yard, two dogs had come outside and were barking at my chihuahua friend. In the next yard, a dog who looked somewhat similar to my chihuahua friend was looking at us through the fence. 
My doggie friend went up to the chain link fence and tried to put his nose through to sniff the dog who looked sort of like him. They both made some whining noises. My dog started to whimper and cry. Then he started running back towards the busy street. 
I called to him, "Dog, stop!"
The dog stopped, turned around and walked a few steps towards me, and then disappeared into the bushes. 
I ran towards the street but I couldn't see the dog. I looked in the bushes, but I couldn't find the dog. He was nowhere!
Curiously, I walked back to where the similar-looking dog had been peering at us through the fence. Now my doggie friend was back there with the other dog, both of them on the opposite side of the fence from me! My dog friend was looking straight at me and wagging his tail, all proud of himself for having figured out his own way home. 
It had been an hour and a half since I had called Animal Control. Now the dog was safe, but I wasn't in the mood to run my errands, because it was traffic hour and my errands would have taken three times as long. So I decided to just go home instead. 
At least, if my buddy escapes again, I'll know how to get him back home! 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Its Not Always Easy At The Top!

So, like I told you in my last post, my school year job as a 1:1 assistant for Tizzy came to an end a few weeks ago. Only a few days later, my summer job, helping to run a summer daycamp for children with special needs, began! I had the same job last year but this year I have two co-leaders instead of just one. It makes it a little easier, especially since the two new co-leaders seem to be a lot more comfortable with kids with special needs than last year's co-leader was.

Even before the school year ended I was busy trying to plan activities for camp! Kevin (one of the co-leaders) has a busy social/activism life, and Chelsea (the other co-leaders) has her hands full with a husband and two children, and I tend to enjoy the planning aspects of camp so I sort of took over a lot of it. What has ended up happening to me is that I get up early enough to get to camp by 8:00 (the earliest we are allowed to be at the site, by contract) to start getting ready for the day as much as I can before everyone else gets there at 8:45 or so. And then after camp ends ar 3:00 or 3:30, I end up going to at least one or two stores to get supplies for the upcoming days. Then I go home, rest for about an hour, eat dinner with my aunt and uncle, take care of all my animal-related duties (clean litter box, feed fish, let Lily out, etc) and then go to my room to work on camp preparations until 10:00. Then I go to sleep. It ends up to be at least 12 hours of work a day!

I don't mean to complain. I really enjoy the camp, and I have fun planning cool things for the kids to do. If there is anything I don't like so much about the job, it is some of the aspects of "supervising" 20 or so adults. Most of the people there are really great, and I look forward to seeing them each day. A few of them, though, probably just one or two, have personalities that seem to involve trying to be as loud and as powerful as possible. These are the people who will argue or complain about little things, the people who insist on punishing the campers for being "disobedient" by keeping them in from activities or threatening to take away field trips (which, the other co-leaders and I have explained from the beginning, we cannot do, unless it is a matter of safety. The kids are there for camp, not behavioral therapy, and their parents have paid for them to be there so they can experience summer camp to the fullest extent that they are able, not to have their favorite activities taken away from them because they didn't put their bathing suit away the first time they were told. We urge the staff members to use natural consequences and "love and logic" strategies, instead. But some people seem hell-bent on getting into control battles!) On one hand I really don't like confrontation, and I consider myself a pretty patient person. But on the other hand, I can be almost overly-sensitive when I feel like the kids are being treasted unfairly. Of course, as usual, I digress...

Anyways. My brother (Bro) and I had been talking about getting together for a long weekend. He lives in California, and he and my nephew Squeak are two of the main reasons I moved out here from Chicago, but I didn't quite realize that being an eight hour drive away from them would not be much better than being a 6 hour plane ride away like I was in Chicago! I originally wanted to move to their town, but Bro was all, "I have my own thing going here, find your own town," only now he and Squeak's mom Sunny have broken up and Bro is a single dad for most of the week and as soon as that happened he changed his tune to, "Move down here and help take care of Squeak!" but by then I had already adjusted pretty well to living up here and had gotten a job and everything, so... Oops I digress, again.

We decided it would be fun to meet half way between our two towns, in a college town four hours south of me and four hours north of him. We got a room at a hotel with a pool so Squeak could swim every day. I got there at noon on Saturday and stayed until noon on Tuesday, missing a day of work. It was so much fun! When I look back on those few days, it feels like a dream, and in my memory everything is hazy and blue and sweet. We spent a lot of the time swimming with Squeak in the pool. He had his little arm swimmies on and was in seventh Heaven. We went to a huge park in the town where there was a little creek that you could splash around in, and a playground. We went out to eat a bunch of times, and we went to see the movie Finding Dory. On the night of Independence Day qwe went to this little festival where they had jumpy houses for the kids, and Squeak spent hours jumping around while we watched, and then we went and watched the fireworks together. Squeak just turned three, and he's a really awesome little kid. He's adorable, and really well-behaved. He's barely ever crabby or whiny, except when he's really tired. The three of us were just together constantly, just relaxing and hanging out. I loved every minute of it. One surprising thing for me was that, although I was getting the same amount of sleep as usual and also about the same amount of activity, I was not tired at all. Usually during the day I feel like I could pass out at any moment. But this whole weekend I felt like I was floating calmly on a cloud of happiness!

We had to part ways on Tuesday at noon. I cried my eyes out for much of the drive home. I didn't even want to get a snack, or listen to music in my car, because nothing would taste as good as the meals and snacks I ate with Bro and Squeak, and no music would be as good as hearing Squeak's little voice. That probably sounds corny and stupid. But that was the way I felt.

The other bad thing about my summer job is that it started right after school ended, and it ends right before my training for my new teaching job starts. So I won't get to go back to Chicago this summer. I really was looking forward to it. I was counting the days. I miss my grandparents and my parents and my aunt and little cousins and my mom's dog so much! I might get to see my mom for a few days if she comes out here, but there will only be a really narrow window of time for me to get to see her. That breaks my heart into a million pieces. I hate being away from her. And I probably won't even get to see my dad or the rest of them at all until Thanksgiving.

I don't know why I am in a sad mood today! I had a good weekend. I will tell you about it later. Right now I need to get ready for bed. But my main point oif this post is that I need to find a way to do more of my planning stuff while I am actually AT work, instead of doing it at home and using up my "free" time. Part of the problem is that when I am using the computer at work to do planning stuff or when I am working on making things for activities, the same few people will make random comments indicating that I am slacking off because I am not knee-deep in little kids. But its like, "Okay, dudes, but if I don't do this, then at activity time tomorrow we're just going to be coloring with crayons or something for the whole time because I won't have anything ready, but that's okay, right?"

Okay I need to get some sleep obviously. Here is a lovely picture of me and Squeak in the little creek at the park we visited. He was showing me a rock he found.